1

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l would llke Lo speak Lhls mornlng abouL anclenL hlsLory. Cn Lhls 8osh Pashanah l wlsh Lo
medlLaLe on hlsLory and wonder aloud abouL our fuLure. lor Lhls occaslon l have unearLhed a
number of arLlfacLs. Pere ls Lhe flrsL show and Lell lLem. lL ls of course a record album, an
exhlblL of classlc vlnyl. l uncovered Lhls ln my basemenL burled ln Lhe boxes from our move
eleven years ago Lo our currenL home. 1here remaln my albums sLacked neaLly ln Lhe movlng
boxes, never agaln Lo be unpacked unLll Lhls very momenL. Some of my younger sLudenLs mlghL
be marvellng aL Lhls ob[ecL. ?es, Lhls ls whaL l once used Lo play muslc. 1o puL Lhls ln
conLemporary Lerms, Lhls double album conLalns 26 songs, a mere fracLlon of Lhe 1,000 songs
presenLly on my lÞhone.

1hls of course ls no ordlnary album. lL ls Þlnk lloyd's !"# %&''. l recall Lhe dlscusslons when
Lhls album came ouL. lL was Lhe mosL anclenL of days. 1he year was 1979. 1here was Lhe
exclLemenL and enLhuslasm of LhaL momenL when ln uecember of LhaL year l flnally goL my
hands on Lhe album. l held Lhe prlze ln my flngers. My frlends and l marveled aL Lhe cover
graphlcs. We even argued abouL Lhe hldden meanlngs found ln Lhe Lrack order. As Lhose
SaLurday evenlngs would drag on lnLo Sunday mornlngs, we would run back and forLh Lo Lhe
LurnLable Lo replay Lrack 6 of slde 3. (ºPello, hello, hello.ls anybody ln Lhere? !usL nod lf you
can hear me. ls Lhere anyone aL home.")

1haL's whaL lL was llke ln anclenL days. 1haL was Lhe experlence of llsLenlng Lo muslc. Some
mlghL be looklng aL Lhls rellc, especlally Lhose on our lsrael CommlLLee, and saylng, ºuld he
have Lo plck Þlnk lloyd? uld Lhe rabbl have Lo choose 8oger WaLers glven hls haLred of lsrael
and hls acLlvlsm ln Lhe 8uS movemenL (8oycoLL, ulvesLmenL and SancLlons)? l pledge we wlll
examlne Lhese lssues ln more deLall on ?om klppur. 1hls album remalns a world Lo lLs own. l
recall Lhose days wlLh fondness when l hold lL ln my hands.

8uL whaL of muslc Loday? lL has been a mere LhlrLeen years slnce Lhe lnvenLlon of Lhe lÞod. My
currenL b'nal mlLzvah sLudenLs know of no oLher world. We shared muslc ln anclenL Llmes noL
on lacebook buL by maklng mlx Lapes. 1haL ls how we shared our love of Þlnk lloyd or Lhe
Lagles or lf we wanL Lo march lnLo Lhe 80's, Squeeze and Lhe 1alklng Peads. (º?ou may flnd
yourself llvlng ln a shoLgun shack. And you may ask yourself, 'Well, how dld l geL here?'") And
now even downloadlng muslc ls a Lhlng of Lhe pasL. WhaL was revoluLlonary a decade ago, our
chlldren by and large no longer do. 1here ls SpoLlfy and Crooveshark. lor a mere $10 per monLh
l can have access Lo 20 mllllon songs. Cone ls Lhe sense of holdlng Lhe muslc ln my hands.
Cone ls Lhe sense of ownlng muslc. lor my young sLudenLs muslc ls only shared. lL ls abouL
playllsLs and lndlvldual songs raLher Lhan albums and Lracks. lL ls abouL lacebook dlscusslons
llke ºl can'L belleve SLeven MoskowlLz ls llsLenlng Lo PoLel Callfornla agaln."

2
l hold now a second plece of hlsLory ln my hands. 1hls ls a book. l would llke Lo Lhlnk LhaL Lhls
ls noL yeL anclenL hlsLory, buL l wonder whaL Lhe fuLure holds for Lhe book ln Lhe fasL paced
dlglLal age? 1he movemenL from scrolls, wlLh whlch we of course sLlll read, Lo Lhose few,
preclous books made for wealLhy lndlvlduals Lo Lhe mass producLlon of books by CuLenberg ln
1440 helped Lo democraLlze learnlng. And yeL Lhe plles of books, Lhe rows upon rows of fllled
Lo overflowlng bookshelves are no longer Lhe mosL common feaLure of a !ewlsh home. My
klndle, Lhls small llLLle devlce, can hold over 1,000 books. l can have access Lo a llbrary of books
on my lÞhone.

LesL Lhls sound llke anoLher adverLlsemenL, for anoLher $10 per monLh l can have unllmlLed
access Lo 700,000 books. 1hen agaln Lhere ls someLhlng abouL Lhe feel of a book ln Lhe hand.
1he Þeople of Lhe e8eader does noL have Lhe same rlng Lo lL. And Lhls book LhaL l cluLch ls
agaln no ordlnary book. lL ls my prlzed collecLlon of Lmlly ulcklnson poems. 1here ls of course
an Lmlly ulcklnson app glven LhaL she ls among Lhls counLry's greaLesL poeLs, buL a book
represenLs a [ourney, a book Lells a sLory separaLe even from lLs words.

And l can Lell you Lhe sLory of my dlscovery of Lhls book. l had boarded Lhe subway Lo make my
[ourney upLown from Þenn SLaLlon when l looked up from my folded paper (remember how we
used Lo fold Lhe paper so as noL poke Lhe person nexL Lo us) Lo dlscover Lhls slgn called ÞoeLry
ln MoLlon. Launched by Lhe M1A and Lhe ÞoeLry SocleLy of Amerlca ln 1992 Lhe subway cars
were now decoraLed noL only wlLh adverLlsemenLs buL poems. And Lhere l read ºPope ls Lhe
Lhlng wlLh feaLhers - 1haL perches ln Lhe soul - And slngs Lhe Lune wlLhouL Lhe words - And
never sLops - aL all -."' l dld noL know Lhen LhaL poem #234 could so capLure my hearL. l exlLed
Lhe subway Lo flnd a booksLore and purchase Lhls book: !"# ()*+'#,# -)#*. )/ 0*1'2
314516.)6. l recall LhaL each and every Llme l hold Lhls book ln my hands and dlscover anoLher
of her llnes. Among Lhe dog-eared pages l flnd agaln ºA smlle so small as mlne mlghL
be/Þreclsely Lhelr necesslLy -º (#1391).

Leaflng Lhrough Lhe pages of Lhese poems l conLlnue Lhe [ourney. lor my chlldren Lhelr
[ourneys wlll be very dlfferenL. Chlldren's [ourneys are of course supposed Lo be dlfferenL Lhan
Lhelr parenL's. 8ooks mlghL no longer llne Lhelr shelves buL Lhe wrlLLen word, l hope and pray,
wlll conLlnue Lo sLlmulaLe Lhelr mlnds and peneLraLe Lhe soul. SLlll l wonder whaL mlghL be losL
wlLhouL a book under Lhelr arms, wlLhouL books llnlng Lhelr shelves. Pow wlll Lhey sLlll leaf
Lhrough pages and dlscover anew a poem Lo sLlr Lhe soul?

1he Lhlrd show and Lell lLem ln Lhls medlLaLlon on hlsLory l cannoL even wrap my hands around.
lL ls Lhe synagogue. lL ls llkewlse undergolng radlcal LransformaLlons. Llke muslc and poeLry, lL
Loo ls anclenL yeL changlng. WhaL wlll Lhe synagogue be llke ln an age when so much ls shared
for such llLLle expense? Þeople mlghL noL be asklng Lhls quesLlon so dlrecLly buL l see lL formlng
on Lhelr llps. 1hey ask, lf l can have all access Lo muslc and books for $10 per monLh why can'L l
have all access Lo !udalsm for [usL as llLLle? And so here ls my response Lo why Lhe synagogue
3
musL survlve. 8efore we can even answer Lhls quesLlon we musL ask a more baslc quesLlon: why
be !ewlsh. So leL me Lell you sLralghL ouL. Why be !ewlsh. 8ecause !udalsm offers a paLh of
meanlng. 8ecause !udalsm Lackles quesLlons wlLh whlch we are sLlll wresLllng. 8ecause
!udalsm offers a road Lo brlng heallng Lo Lhe world.

1hese answers are uncovered ln Lhe book. 1he answer ls unfurled ln Lhe edges of a scroll. And
LhaL Lakes some work Lo uncover. LeL's be honesL lf you wanL someLhlng akln Lo Lhe
convenlence of e8eaders and lÞhones you can go elsewhere. ?ou can flnd a LuLor Lo come Lo
your house. ?ou can hlre a ºrabbl" who wlll offlclaLe aL a bar or baL mlLzvah Lhree monLhs from
now. lf you [usL wanL Lhe ceremony you can do LhaL. 8uL synagogue ls flrsL and foremosL abouL
communlLy. Pebrew School ls a mlsnomer. lL ls noL abouL learnlng Pebrew as much as lL ls
abouL Leachlng our chlldren Lo aLLach Lhemselves Lo Lhelr communlLy and Lo fall ln love wlLh
Lhelr falLh. 1haL ls why lL maLLers LhaL Lhey slL across Lhe Lable from oLhers. Learnlng ls noL a
sollLary acLlvlLy for Lhe !ew. lL ls done wlLh oLhers. Sure you can read by yourself. Sure you can
even pracLlce your alef-beL by yourself. 8uL you can only Lruly learn wlLh oLhers.

1hls ls why as well learnlng ls supposed Lo be a llfe long pursulL. 1haL ln a nuLshell ls one of Lhe
reasons why l run away Lo !erusalem every summer. So l can sLudy surrounded by oLhers, so
LhaL my head can be fllled wlLh Lhe argumenLs and debaLes LhaL have susLalned our people.
And why musL we learn? 8ecause we belleve LhaL 1orah ls meanL Lo beLLer Lhe world. l don'L
mean Lo suggesL LhaL we should converL Lhe world Lo belng !ewlsh, buL l do mean Lo say LhaL lf
!udalsm ls Lo maLLer lL has Lo maLLer noL [usL for ourselves and our own lndlvldual needs, buL lL
has Lo maLLer for Lhe world. Abraham !oshua Peschel, Lhe unparalleled 20
Lh
cenLury rabbl,
remarked, º1o be a !ew ls elLher superfluous or essenLlal.. Pence we learn Lhe purpose of
!ewlsh exlsLence: we are obllgaLed Lo llve llves LhaL wlll become 1orah, llves LhaL are 1orah."
7-158&4" 9#."&*&: !) ;&<# & ;)8'=

lf 1orah ls only abouL llghLlng candles 18 mlnuLes before sunseL or abouL answerlng quesLlons
such as ls Lhls oven kosher or noL and noL abouL ls lL eLhlcal Lo lay off employees so as Lo
lncrease Lhe sLock prlce, ls lL moral Lo wage war agalnsL lSlS, Lhen lL ls meanlngless. 1orah musL
be relevanL for our llves Loday. lL musL have meanlng for Lhe here and now. lf 1orah ls only
abouL personal meanlng and noL even more lmporLanLly abouL Lhe beLLermenL of Lhe world,
Lhen lL loses lLs slgnlflcance. lf lL remalns here and does noL venLure Lo Lhe sLreeLs, Lo our
offlces, Lo our homes Lhen lL lacks profound LruLh. We musL llve llves LhaL become 1orah.

uo you wanL Lo know why we should survlve? Pere ls why. 1he world desperaLely needs Lhese
answers or aL Lhe very leasL a place where we can debaLe Lhese quesLlons. uo you wanL Lo
know why Lhe synagogue musL survlve? lL ls Lhe address where Lhese values are learned and
re-engaged, lL ls where communlLy ls fosLered and 1orah ls broughL Lo Lhe world.

4
1haL ls why Lhe synagogue was creaLed. 2,000 years ago Lhere was only one address Lo be
!ewlsh. 1he only address was Lhe 1emple ln !erusalem. 1here we would brlng our sacrlflces Lo
Lhe prlesL Lo be offered on Lhe 1emple's alLar. 1here was no local address for !udalsm ln each
and every Lown. lL was cenLrallzed ln Lhe 1emple. And Lhen ln 70 CL Lhe 8omans desLroyed Lhe
1emple and nearly wlped us ouL compleLely when Lhey leveled !erusalem. All LhaL remalns of
LhaL grand sLrucLure ls Lhe koLel, Lhe WesLern Wall. CuL of LhaL Lragedy Lhe synagogue was
born. 1he rabbls developed a porLable falLh LhaL was lndependenL of place LhaL was separaLed
from even Lhe hollesL of places. We could go anywhere. All we needed was a book, Lhe 1orah,
and Lhe songs of our prayers. Lven more lmporLanLly all we needed was each oLher.
Synagogue comes from Lhe Creek LranslaLlon of Lhe Pebrew 8elL knesseL, a house of assembly.
WhaL makes a synagogue a synagogue ls noL a bulldlng buL Lhe people. lf you have Lhe requlred
Len, you have a synagogue, wheLher you are ln !erusalem, or 8rookvllle or !erlcho or CysLer
8ay.

1he 8abbls fashloned !udalsm ouL of Lhe 8lble, Lhey made wanderlng and [ourneylng parL of Lhe
enLerprlse. 1hey recognlzed LhaL even Lhough we mlghL, unLll reallzlng Lhls dream ln Lhe
presenL day, longed for !erusalem, our loL would be Lo wander LhroughouL Lhe lands. ln each
clLy, ln every Lown, ln all Lhe counLrles of our dlsperslon, Lhe synagogue became Lhe prlmary
address for Leachlng 1orah, for brlnglng 1orah Lo successlve generaLlons and Lhe world aL large.
We would forever be wanderers. We would forever [ourney. We would learn new Lhlngs ln
every land, we would dlscover new LruLhs ln every clLy and we would relearn our anclenL
Leachlngs ln Lhe synagogue, now on 1emple Lane. ln a way we carrled Lhe synagogue, as we
carry a book, from place Lo place. We held lL ln our hands. We carrled lLs meanlng ln our
hearLs. We marveled aL lLs archlLecLure. We looked aL Lhe album cover. We conLlnue Lo
wander.

1he 1orah ls of course on lLs mosL llLeral level abouL a [ourney. llrsL lL Lells Lhe sLory abouL Lhe
dlscovery of Cod. Abraham looks up and reallzes LhaL Lhere can only be one Cod who made Lhe
heavens and Lhe earLh. lL ls Lhen abouL Cod respondlng Lo our sufferlng and freelng us from
LgypL. 8uL lL ls mosLly abouL 40 years of wanderlng Lhrough Lhe wllderness. 1haL ls Lhe
ma[orlLy of Lhe sLory. lL ls abouL Lhe Lrlals and mlsforLunes of Lhe longesL camplng Lrlp ever
descrlbed. ºMoses, l can'L belleve you forgoL Lo pack more food!" Lhe people scream over and
over agaln. 8uL lL ls worLh Lhe [ourney, and Lhe grumbllngs and Lhe complalnlng, because Lhere
ls a promlse of a new home ln Lhe land of lsrael. And Lhen on Lhe shores of Lhe !ordan 8lver,
Moses glves one flnal speech followed by anoLher flnal speech fllled wlLh advlce, buL mosLly
fllled wlLh warnlngs abouL whaL Lo do and of course mosLly whaL noL Lo do. And Lhen he dles.
Cod burles hlm on MounL nebo.

And Lhe 1orah Lhen does Lhe mosL surprlslng of Lhlngs. lL ends. 1he 1orah concludes on Lhe
wrong slde of Lhe rlver. lL ends wlLh Lhe promlse unfulfllled, wlLh Lhe dream unreallzed. Cur
mosL lmporLanL book ends wlLh Lhe [ourney lncompleLe. And whaL do we do? We roll Lhe
3
scroll back Lo Lhe beglnnlng and sLarL readlng Lhe sLory all over agaln. ºln Lhe beglnnlng Cod
creaLed Lhe heaven and Lhe earLh." ln Lhe synagogue and Lhe 1orah readlng cycle LhaL ls
cenLral Lo Lhls lnsLlLuLlon we rlLuallze Lhe [ourney over Lhe desLlnaLlon. 1he [ourney always
conLlnues we remlnd ourselves year afLer year. Cn SlmhaL 1orah we slng for [oy noL because
we have arrlved aL some desLlnaLlon buL because we can begln agaln. 1he wanderlng always
conLlnues.

Þeople Lhlnk LhaL Lhe synagogue ls flxed, LhaL ls lmmovable and never changlng. Þeople Lhlnk
LhaL a synagogue ls a bulldlng. lL ls noL. 1he bulldlng ls a Lool. lL serves Lhe congregaLlon. lL
musL never become Lhe oLher way around. 1hls ls Lhe mosL lmporLanL lesson l learned, and l
hope all of us learned, from our flfLeen years of wanderlng and schleplng Lhe 1orah scroll all
over Long lsland. l never felL lL lnauLhenLlc Lo serve a congregaLlon wlLhouL lLs own bulldlng, l
never felL LhaL we were anyLhlng less Lhan even Lhe grandesL and oldesL of synagogues. Pavlng
our own bulldlng makes Lhe Leachlng easler. ?ou don'L have Lo wonder anymore where your
rabbl ls. 1he address ls clear. lL ls slmpler.

8uL wlLh Lhls slmpllclLy comes some dangers. Wlll we become overly focused on Lhe bulldlng?
Wlll we lose slghL of whaL has made us a holy congregaLlon? Wlll we lose slghL of Lhe people
who have made Lhls a speclal and unlque communlLy? 1he greaL Pasldlc rabbl, Lhe koLzker
rebbe LaughL: 1o whaL ls Lhe one who looks ouL only for hlmself and hls (or her) own perfecLlon
compared Lo? 1o a Lzaddlk ln a fur coaL. lf Lhe house ls cold and a person wlshes Lo warm
hlmself, he has Lwo cholces: Lo llghL a flre or puL on Lhe fur coaL. WhaL ls Lhe dlfference
beLween llghLlng a flre and puLLlng on Lhe fur? When Lhe flre ls llL, l am warm as well as oLhers.
We are warmed when l llghL a flre. When l puL on Lhe fur coaL only l am warm. We musL
remaln on guard never Lo become LhaL Lzaddlk who wraps hlmself ln a fur coaL and falls Lo help
llghL Lhe flre LhaL warms all.

1he SL Louls congregaLlon ln whlch l grew up recenLly celebraLed lLs 140
Lh
annlversary. 1haL
may appear really old, buL 140 years ls a mere speck on Lhe !ewlsh Llmellne. Lach synagogue
only galns lLs anclenL volce because lL does noL sLand alone. lL ls Lled Lo all oLher synagogues,
some of whlch are no more, oLhers of whlch conLlnue Lo Lhrlve, some of whlch are brand new.
1he synagogue moves Lhrough hlsLory. MovemenL ls parL of lLs very naLure. 1hlnk abouL
prayer, anoLher cenLral feaLure of synagogue llfe. We sLand up and slL down. We bow and
bend our knees. We beaL our chesLs on ?om klppur. 1he Pasldlc masLers sway Lo and fro,
movlng Lhelr bodles Lo Lhe rhyLhm of prayer. And l have heard LhaL on Lhe norLh Shore of Long
lsland some even dance Lo Lhelr prayers. We conLlnue Lo move.

l worry LhaL some mlghL Lhlnk LhaL Lhe [ourney ls now compleLe. We have arrlved aL a bulldlng.
We have survlved Lhe wanderlng. 8uL Lhe [ourney conLlnues. 1he holy work of fashlonlng
communlLy forever marches on.

6
We need Lhe synagogue. Why? 8ecause we need each oLher. 1he polnL of communlLy ls Lo
enlarge our clrcle of frlends and solldlfy our frlendshlps. ?ou can only Leach Lhe value of
communlLy wlLh oLhers, wlLh peers. 1haL ls Lhe essence of mlnyan, Lhe quorum requlred for
prayer. Whlle Lhe synagogue was a response Lo a caLasLrophlc change, an answer Lo Lhe
quesLlon of how are we golng Lo keep belng !ewlsh wlLhouL a cenLer, lL was also a response Lo a
need. 1he splrlL wlll always requlre a poem Lo sLlr lLs belng. 1he soul wlll always need muslc
and song, no maLLer Lhe cover.

1he !ewlsh splrlL ls nurLured by Lhe synagogue. lL ls Lhls lnsLlLuLlon LhaL glves lL llfe, LhaL
nurLures our souls and brlngs Lhe values of 1orah Lo Lhe world.

1here ls a legend abouL Lhe 1emple LhaL once sLood ln !erusalem. lL ls abouL lLs wlndows.
AnclenL bulldlngs llke Lhe casLles and churches we vlslL LhroughouL Lurope consLrucLed Lhelr
wlndows so as Lo funnel Lhe naLural llghL from Lhe ouLslde ln. ln oLher words Lhe wlndows cuL
lnLo Lhe bulldlng's Lhlck sLonewalls were wlder on Lhe ouLslde and Lhlnner on Lhe lnslde. 1he
1emple's wlndows were Lhe opposlLe. 1hey were larger on Lhe lnslde. 1helr purpose was Lo
funnel Lhe llghL from Lhe lnslde Lo Lhe ouLslde, Lo brlng Lhe meanlng and conLenL galned wlLhln
Lo Lhe world aL large. 1haL ls Lhe purpose of Lhe synagogue: Lo brlng llghL Lo Lhe ouLslde, Lo
bulld a flre LogeLher Lo warm Lhe communlLy. 1he purpose ls Lo brlng 1orah Lo Lhe world.

As much as we are over[oyed abouL our new bulldlng, lL ls really noL abouL Lhe bulldlng. 1he
bulldlng ls noL Lhe dream. 1he bulldlng serves Lhe dream.

8ack Lo Þlnk lloyd. ºAll ln all lL was all [usL brlcks ln Lhe wall. All ln all you were all [usL brlcks ln
Lhe wall."

lL ls noL Lhe bulldlng. lL ls someLhlng far grander and more eLernal. lL ls Lhe llghL LhaL comes
from wlLhln.

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